We recently met with Isabelle Lowell, the lady behind each individually chosen strand of pearls sold at the Edwards, Lowell boutiques. She tells us about their origin, the different varieties, and other interesting facts.
ISABELLE LOWELL SHOWS PEARLS TO A CLIENT
Why do you think people love pearls so much?
“Pearls are unique among valuable gems used in jewellery-making,” explains Isabelle. “There’s a very strong emotional connection to pearls, too.
“That’s why pearls make the ideal gift,” she explains, as she shows us a ring with a white pearl and a greyish-green pearl. “Take this ring, for example, it was one of my husband’s first gifts to me, and I still cherish it for its beauty and sentimental value.
“These lustrous, shimmering shapes and natural colours make a wonderful gift to a mother or to that special someone, too.”
Where do pearls come from and how are they formed?
“As most readers would know, pearls form in molluscs,” continues Isabelle. “And, in fact, a pearl is a grain of sand or a speck of material that is placed inside the oyster manually or naturally.
“Once the mollusc senses this, it covers it in many layers of a special substance called nacre and, in time, a pearl is created. The longer the pearl is left inside the oyster, the bigger it will grow, and the cultivation period of some pearls can be up to three years!
“Today’s pearls are nearly all cultured. The difference being that each oyster is regularly controlled and turned round by the divers at regular intervals, to ensure they achieve as round a shape as possible. By contrast, a 100 per cent natural pearl in the depths of the seas is left untouched until found.
The force of gravity tends to result in a pearl that is usually not perfectly round in shape.”
How many different kinds of pearls are there and do they vary in size?
SOUTH SEA, AKOYA TAHITI PEARLS AND ISABELLE’S TREASURED RING
“Because natural pearls come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours, we normally subdivide them into four categories: South Sea, Akoya, Freshwater and Tahiti.
“South Sea pearls origin from the northern waters of Australia and are renowned for their lustrous white glow, and are usually more expensive than any of the other pearls. They also tend to be the biggest as their diameter can be anywhere between 8-17mm.
“The Tahiti pearls origin from the seas of the South Pacific, they range in colour and can go from light grey to dark grey. Sometimes they can be dark enough to be called ‘black pearls’, although, in nature, truly black pearls don’t exist. They are also the second biggest of all the pearl types as their diameter is normally between 8-16mm. The most valuable are the ones which have a dark shade of peacock.
“Then we have the Akoya pearls from the islands of central and southern Japan, which are smaller (3-10mm) and mostly round. They shine in shades of pale pink, soft cream and silver blue and have a magnificent lustre.
“And, finally, there are the Freshwater pearls, which are cultured in China to the west of Shanghai, where a large number of canals and waterways offer the perfect setting for this process to take place.
“Interestingly, up to 30 pearls can be formed in a single mussel as opposed to one or, occasionally, two in seawater oysters. Each of these can be diverse in colour and shape and normally measure between 3-13mm in diameter, their shape can be round, button or drop-shaped. They also vary in colour, from shimmering white to salmon, and from rose through to red tones and dark violet.”
Where do Edwards, Lowell get their pearls from?
ISABELLE LOWELL NEXT TO A VARIETY OF PEARL JEWELLERY ON DISPLAY AT THE BOUTIQUE
“At Edwards, Lowell we have a large variety of pearls, and they are all sourced from Schoeffel, a family company with a long tradition dating back to 1921.
“When choosing from the hundreds of strands of pearls by Schoeffel, usually at the annual Basel fair in spring, I always make sure to look for certain characteristics. Apart from their shape, which is very important, I look for pearls that have the finest colour in their respective category, that have the least imperfections and that impress me with the quality of their lustre.
“My choice is often not based on the lowest price, but on the quality of the pearl. It is a great satisfaction to see my friends and clients wearing the fine pearls I personally choose and to see that, to me, they still stand out. ”
Schoeffel have extensive specialist knowledge, passed on from one generation to the next, thus guaranteeing first-class quality every time. They have meticulously created four signature collections, which can be viewed at the Edwards Lowell’s outlets in St Julian’s or Valletta.
For more information, please call: +356 2138 4503